The Green man, part 4

In the morning Thorak was gone, his house empty, his horse and cart gone, and he had left no note or explanation. But word soon spread of what he, Edward and Anthony had discovered that previous night, and it was clear to all why he had fled. Thorak who was once a well-respected member of the community was now a name that was spoken with a spit soon followed. He was cursed as if he himself had caused the evil. And it didn’t stop there, there were a few more dwarfs in Breadwell, who soon started to feel the fury of the villagers. It started with insults whispered about the dwarf’s behind their backs, then it soon progressed to verbal insults hurled at them, some even blamed the dwarfs for the misfortune as the village is made up of a mostly humans and only a small handful of the long living dwarven folk. It is a common problem in small country villages to be superstitious of any non-human folk, some villages are even exclusive to humans and have a very sheltered outlook, breadwell was the exception, but that small-minded isolated outlook was spreading in the village. Within three days it had reached drastic levels, and sightings of the green man had increased, never too close to the village, but he was always seen in the woods, or skipping in the tall grass in the meadows, he appeared to just be watching. As if he was waiting for something to happen. The aggressive attitude towards the dwarfs had been going for a full week now, for the dwarfs it was too much. Four ox carts lined outside their houses, laden with all their belongings, tables, chairs, clothes, tools, everything they owned. There was a crowd of villagers watching, with Mr Dorton at the lead, almost as if he was preaching, stirring the villagers into anger. “you see how they run, their evil here is done, I never trusted the dwarfs, you should have listened to me, I was right, I am always right”, he had an insane look in his eyes, he was working himself into a fury which was spreading to the others, in the crowd men at the back handed weapons forward, cudgels and swords, some with bows. The dwarf men stood ready while the women and children loaded the cart, they knew something was up, the four leaders of the households and their five sons stood in a solid mass of muscle, all armed, one with a huge double-headed axe, and one son had a huge crossbow, with a bolt that could penetrate several men in mail. “You see how the vagabonds are armed, they mean to make war, they are a warlike race, they hate peace, and they wish us all dead” preached Mr Dorton. Edward and Anthony appeared from behind the dwarfs, they walked past the families loading the carts and the dwarf men, they approached the angry village mob, “stop this insanity” cried Anthony, “it is the trickery of the green man, the man of the woods, the pixie, he is working his magic, and working it well on all you fools!”. A few hundred meters away, hidden in the long barley fields, sitting there as if watching a play sat the pixie, he was cackling to himself, a low evil cackle, he was rocking back and forth, sitting cross legged, he was quite insane and was in a state of ecstasy watching the mischief he was cooking up in the village. He stared directly at Mr Dorton, pointed a hideous bent finger towards him and muttered a wicked sounding language, the language of the netherworld, a language older than the roots of the mountains, spoken by all who dwell in there. At that moment Mr Dorton stepped forward and looked at the two brothers, then at the villagers “followers, followers of evil, they went with thorak into the wood that night, they went with him, they met and plotted with the green man, they are in league with evil, they must die, they must all die!”. The first blow flew, an arrow unleashed from the crowd struck Anthony in the belly, he doubled over and fell to the floor, and blood poured from the wound and clogged his mouth as he tried to speak. There, stood at the front with a bow, was his own father, Thomas garlsby. Edward screamed in rage, he charged his father, but he was too far away, Thomas loosed another arrow, it struck Edward in the neck, only a few meters from Thomas, Thomas looked his own son in the eyes as he collapsed to his knees, grasping his throat, gurgling his last breaths that were muffled with the blood that poured from his mouth. All Thomas could say was one heartless word, that Edward heard very clearly, “traitor”. Then they charged, all the villagers who had assembled, at least sixty of them. The great dwarven crossbow loosed, the bolt exploded through the air, at terrifying speed it hit the mass of charging villagers, it tore through flesh and bone as if there was nothing in its way, at least six men fell to the floor, ghastly holes in their chests exposing their insides. The bolt smashed into the side of a house behind where the mass had started to gather, bone, hair and flesh clung to it. The dwarven man with the huge axe charged first, swinging the axe as he charged, the giant axe head severed heads and split bones. Eventually the axe imbedded itself in the shoulder of a man, and there it was stuck, the villagers swarmed the dwarf in a fury of stabbing, he was stabbed multiple times all over his body from all directions, by the time he fell to the floor he was dead. Once the other dwarf men clashed with the frenzied villagers the dwarf women and children whipped the oxen and were away on the carts as fast as the slow moving beasts would go, they knew they would never see their men in this life again. It was bloody, brutal, but over quick. The dwarfs formed a tight ring and fought off the villagers initial rage, soon enough they backed away from the fierce dwarfs, the dwarfs were too strong to be overpowered, too disciplined, remember that the elder dwarves had probably fought in many battles against trained enemy troops, not a mere mass of mad villagers. Mr Dorton was the first to realize this, he called everyone back and ordered all with bows to move to the front and surround the ring of dwarves, there was at least twenty men armed with hunting bows, they pulled their bow strings tight, aimed at the dwarfs who stood in silence, covered in blood and small wounds, panting heavily in the heat of the day. The arrows were loosed. The sound was sickening as the arrows imbedded themselves in the dwarfs who collapsed to their knees, still very much alive, another volley was loosed at the dying dwarf men, the second volley was too much, they all fell to the floor, pierced by many arrows, surrounded by dead and dying villagers who they had taken with them. Thomas stood over Anthony, his other dead son, killed by his own hand, he stood still, motionless, he looked down, sticking  low in his belly, almost to his crutch was an arrow, it had torn through flesh and scraped his pelvis bone, settling into the cartilage, Mrs Garlsby came from behind him, she had a cudgel, with a mighty swing she smashed it into his back, he fell to the floor, shaking disturbingly as if he was having a fit, she looked down on him, then followed up with a mass of blows to his head, until he had no head, just a mess where his head had been, then she walked across the fields, over the hills, and there she hung herself from a tree.

The next day the rain poured and poured, thunder and lightning cracked in the sky, exploding across the countryside, it was early evening, it was darker than normal due to the dark heavy rain clouds that blackened the sky . In breadwell the aftermath of the previous day still lay there, the dead dwarfs and villagers lay where they had fallen, the wounded had been left to die in the cold wet night, magpies and other carrion birds tore greedily at flesh. The remaining villagers who had not fled that very day all amassed in the unknown tavern, about thirty five of them, all had been present at the butchery the day afore. They sat there in silence, supping on cider, Mr Dorton stood behind his bar, an aura of insanity about him. It was damp and cold, the fire was not lit and the thatch was starting to leak, the thatcher and his son lay outside with heads split by the huge axe wielding dwarf. A dark mood swept over the tavern, no words were spoken, some men were drunk and passed out, faces slumped down on the table. A loud thunder cracked, at the same time the lightning illuminated the tavern, as it lit up, the door was swung open, there stood a small dark figure, silhouetted against the grey backdrop, rain pouring in through the doorway, there the figure stood, and everyone in the tavern froze and stared at it. A great feeling of fear swept over all who were present, men sat bolt upright, some were shaking, some even sobbed, so great was the feeling of terror that had come over them. There the pixie remained, standing, with the rain beating on his bony back, he wore a child’s waistcoat, and a small Childs cap. After some time he pointed to Mr Dorton, there he held his point for a number of minutes, then, with a voice as unfriendly and icy as frost he shrieked a sentence in which they could all understand, “my cider” he said drawing the words out, Mr Dorton ran to the pixie, a mug of cider in hand, the pixie snatched it from his grasp and poured it greedily down his throat, spilling much of it down his front, he licked his fingers ravenously. He then grabbed Mr Dorton by the shirt and pulled him down to his height, he leant into Mr Dortons ear, whispered something that made the taverns keeper go pale and fall to the floor, shaking and sobbing, then, the pixie left, skipping and hopping through the rain, back into his wood. The village of breadwell does not exist anymore, it was burnt down in a fire, the night of a fowl lightning storm that ravaged the entire realm, all that is left there now is a tavern, named, the green man.

The End

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